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The Great Good Place: The Country House and English Literature

The Great Good Place: The Country House and English Literature
Author: Kelsall
ISBN 13: 9780231081467
ISBN 10: 231081464
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: 1993-03-04
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 252
List Price: $75.00

In The Great Good Place, Malcolm Kelsall examines how the ideal of the English country house has grown and changed over the centuries. Kelsall looks at the great house as an ideal that persisted long after the social and political arrangements that the manor represented had ceased to exist, and as a reality, providing detailed descriptions of particular homes. Kelsall tells the story of a conservative tradition that, rooted in classical antiquity, was first made distinctively English by the poets of the Renaissance. This tradition was shaped further by the novelists of the eighteenth century who depicted the country home as the locus of "the good life." Today, the country manor is an ideal under stress. Originally challenged by the ideological implications of the French Revolution, English manor society and its subsequent literary representations have increasingly become things of spirit. For writers late in this tradition like Virginia Woolf and T. S. Eliot, "the great good place" was no longer the center of the social community but rather an imaginative idea communicated between appreciative minds. The Great Good Place shows us how our ways of seeing are shaped by reading. Kelsall looks at houses made famous by writers, such as Penshurst, Stowe, and Kelmscott, and investigates them in light of those writings. He provides detailed and original analyses of works by Jonson, Marvell, Pope, Byron, Fielding, and Austen - all of which feature great country houses as major "characters." Seen in terms of the literature of the age, Van Dyck's family portrait acquires new meaning, and even the decoration on a stove at Kedleston accrues resonances which carry the reader back to the classical age. In this eminently readable study, there is no division between the visual arts and literature, or between high culture and the commonplace. A novel or a travel guidebook, a great landscape garden or the design of a dormer window, all form part of the spectrum of meaning. Illustr


Kelsall (English, U. of Wales, Cardiff) shows how literature influences how people perceive visual imagery, by comparing country houses as they sit in the physical world and as they function as characters in fiction and poetry. Over 30 photographs accompany the consideration of writing from the Renaissance to Virginia Woolf and Henry James. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)